Chelsea have a fierce rivalry with Leeds United, and Frank Lampard and Juan Mata have underlined the importance of the tough task ahead away at Elland Road tonight.
Chelsea and Leeds heated rivalry dates back to 1970, when a ruthless battle in the FA Cup final replay was let loose by the referee. The referee gave out only 1 yellow card, although modern referee David Elleray insists in the modern day a huge 6 red cards, and 20 yellow cards would have been produced. This shocking refereeing display lead both teams to play as rough as possible, which in turn fired up the fans.
Chelsea eventually won the FA Cup, after 4 hours of football. Both sets of fans will be firmly behind their clubs tonight, with Leeds fans still feeling as if they we’re the deserved winners.
Lampard said: “It’s tough to go to Elland Road, there’s a rivalry. We’re aware of it and we have to play on the pitch with passion and do the physical side of things up there because they’re going to be right at it.
“We can’t expect to go up there and tap it around and get a result. We have to do both sides. Win this and we’re in the semi-final and with the possibility of a decent draw but we’ve got to win the games.
“We have to pick it up for Leeds, We have to go there and stand up. We got a result against Sunderland before we came out to Japan and it’s very important that we do our stuff, not just with Leeds but the Premier League games over Christmas and keep ourselves right up there.
“You can’t win every tournament every year, no one does it. We worked very hard to get to the final in Japan. We’ve changed the personnel a bit this year. There’s been a bedding-in process and we’ve changed the manager, so there’s been quite a few circumstances.’’
Lampard and the Chelsea back-room staff have been updating the new Chelsea players of the rivalry between the teams, and Mata said: “We know the history of Chelsea and Leeds, they are always difficult games, competitive between supporters. Lampard told me about the rivalry. He told me the Seventies was when it started.”
This is going to be Chelsea’s first game since their devastating loss to Corinthians in the World Club Cup final on Sunday.
“We are really sad,” Mata added. “You have to carry on and try to win as many games as we can during the season, just carry on, trying to win the next game against Leeds away, which is going to be tough. Just carry on. Leeds is an important game. Chelsea are a big club and we want to win all of the trophies: Capital One Cup, Premier League, FA Cup.” (We are also competing in the Europa League.)
Chelsea will have their work cut out to boost morale ahead of tonights game, with many players distraught after Sunday’s loss. Chelsea should welcome John Terry back into the squad, and the experienced players will be key in keeping us in the Capitol One Cup. Terry and Lampard are both expected to start tonight’s game, and should keep the younger players on their toes.
Chelsea will be without Oriol Romeu through injury, Gary Cahill and John Obi Mikel through injury, and it is thought that Daniel Sturridge is still struggling for fitness before tonights game.
Chelsea should still have enough strength in depth to win tonights game, but I believe the hardest battle will be in the players heads. Leeds are certainly going to fight us all the way tonight, but I am pinning all my hopes in the Chelsea players coming out and proving they have the fight to get us through the torrid times ahead. Come on you Blues!